Searching for a new cell phone carrier? If you’re a regular GSM Nation reader, we bet you want the company with the best new tech. Want to know who that is? Not Verizon or Sprint or AT&T but (drumroll please) MetroPCS. We didn’t see that one coming either. But when it became the first carrier in the US to launch Voice Over LTE, MetroPCS rose head and shoulders above its competitors.
Voice Over LTE
Earlier this week, Metro PCS became the first wireless carrier to release Voice Over LTE (VoLTE). VoLTE is a new connection option that increases spectral efficiency and network capacity. In layman’s terms, that means it’s kind of like 4G LTE but faster and cheaper with HD voice quality and significantly reduced call connection times.
It’s the fastest connection avaialable in the world and just as exciting as it sounds. And right now, you can only access VoLTE through MetroPCS. Verizon Wireless and AT&T have plans for VoLTE in the works, but they won’t be available until 2013.
Rich Communication Services
In the future, MetroPCS plans to vault itself ahead of the competition again with Rich Communication Services (RCS). RCS will use VoLTE to support a wide range of real-time services that include video and voice conferencing, something you won’t be able to get on other carriers until they make the upgrade. It’s coming to Metro PCS later this year.
MetroPCS doesn’t just lead the industry in tech. It also made its name by offering affordable, customer-centric prices. For example, customers without credit cards are allowed to pay with cash. MetroPCS also includes taxes in its listed monthly rates so that their customers know exactly what they’re paying for.
And even though they have the best tech around, the services and plans at MetroPCS are some of the cheapest on the market. They are the only carrier we know of with unlimited international calling for $10/month.
Metro PCS was also the company that brought reason to the market by offering short contracts v. two to three years of indentured servitude. To compete, other carriers had to shorten their contracts as well.
The Trouble with MetroPCS
MetroPCS is the best carrier in tech and price by a wide margin. So why don’t you hear more about them? The trouble is with the phones they carry. MetroPCS focuses on low cost handsets (many are available at under $100 without a contract) rather than the big tech monsters that attract attention.
That means that interested customers have to choose between fast connectivity and unimpressive handsets (Some models get as bad as the minimally functional Huawei M835). And that’s a sacrifice most techies aren’t willing to make.
But there are some (OK one) bright points: the LG Connect 4G. It’s a top tier phone offered by MetroPCS at a reasonable price and it supports VoLTE. We’ve reviewed it here if you want to check it out. It’s a great phone, but unfortunately the sole bright spot in MetroPCS’ lineup.
MetroPCS says that they’ll release more VoLTE capable phones in the coming months. We’ll keep an eye out and let you know which phones make MetroPCS worth a try.